Tuesday, February 02, 2010

In The Culture Wars - Words Matter?

Silence wasn't golden when Grammys bleeped lyrics

At a time of heightened sensitivities over mere words, some words that are over the edge don't seem to be as "offensive" to the consuming audience. They prefer to be cursed at from the person with the microphone.


NEW YORK — Did anybody notice that, late in Sunday's telecast of the Grammy Awards show, the sound went on the fritz?

The mikes went dead for seconds on end, over and over, like some kind of short circuit no one could fix.

This apparent technical snafu seemed to crop up during the big production number with rap artists Eminem, Lil Wayne and Drake, who ended up miming as much as singing for the TV audience.

More than coincidence?

Not to any of the 25 million viewers wondering why certain recording stars were invited to appear on a show while the sort of music that earned their invitation was turned into audio Swiss cheese.

To be honest, the rap medley of the songs "Forever" and "Drop the World" contained some lyrics you might not hear in Sunday school. But this wasn't Sunday school — it was actually late Sunday night, on a TV extravaganza celebrating a wide range of music.

CBS, caught in the dilemma of having it both ways, sought to include on the Grammycast cutting-edge artists whose music is selling like hotcakes, while, at the same time, it felt compelled to take every precaution to prevent a vocal version of a wardrobe malfunction.

"It was a rousing musical performance, but words were edited from the live telecast that didn't meet our broadcast standards," said CBS spokesman Chris Ender. "We have great respect for artists' creative freedom, but there are certain things you can't say, or sing, on television."

Even so, New York magazine's Web site was among those wondering "why were whole lines being cut to avoid one profanity? Why was the music cut out along with the mikes? Did the bleep button keep getting stuck in the on position or something?" Then, helpfully, the Web site posted annotated lyrics to the performance, with bleeped portions highlighted. (It also noted the performers "were doing a pretty good job of censoring themselves, making the silences all the more pointless.")

On Twitter, Mandypeacelove complained that she "only gotta hear freaken half the song. KINDA makes me mad." And Staciallthetime suggested to CBS, "If you are going to bleep out more than half of the song then dont put it on!"